The Xpressbet Weekend Bankroll: Weekend Feast of Racing

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Thanksgiving weekend is the gift that just keeps on giving to horse racing fans, from coast to coast.  Stakes action began on Thursday with graded races at Aqueduct, Betfair Hollywood Park and Churchill Downs, but that was merely a tune-up for an overstuffed Friday, Saturday and Sunday menu of races.

These are not just good races with current and future stars competing; at least two of the races – Friday’s Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs and Saturday’s G1 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct – could alter Eclipse Awards voting in several divisions and even affect Horse of the Year.

The Clark features Game On Dude, favored off an unbeaten season in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and top candidate for Horse of the Year and best older male until getting soundly drubbed by Mucho Macho Man while finishing ninth at Santa Anita Park. The chief opponent for the Awesome Again gelding is 3-year-old Will Take Charge, the G1 Travers winner who was beaten a nose in the Classic but can likely wrap up an Eclipse Award as 3-year-old male champion with a Clark triumph.

Saturday’s Cigar Mile features several top 3-year-olds, including G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents, G1 Haskell winner Verrazano, and G1 King’s Bishop winner Capo Bastone. But it also has attracted reigning female sprint champion Groupie Doll, who finished second, beaten a nose by Stay Thirsty, in the 2012 Cigar Mile. Groupie Doll could lock up her second Eclipse Award as top female sprinter with a win, but perhaps even argue for the top spot with Royal Delta as champion older filly and mare if she beats males in the Cigar.

Remember that there is no established criteria for Eclipse Award voting, and a race like the Cigar Mile – a one-turn event – is considered by many a sprint and by others a middle-distance event. Definition is in the eye of the Eclipse Award voter.

Turning to last week’s Xpressbet Weekend Bankroll head-to-head competition, the Paulick Report’s Scott Jagow won with a $30 theoretical wager on Rise Up, winner of the G3 Delta Downs Jackpot. The $6.20 payoff netted Scott $93 from his original $100.

With all the races this weekend, you don’t want to get shut out. Use the promo code PAULICKR when you sign up for an Xpressbet account. You’ll earn up to $125 back from Xpressbet the day after you wager your first $100.

Now let’s go to the races.

Xpressbet Handicapper: Dustin Fabian, Xpressbet.com

Cigar Mile Handicap, Aqueduct, Grade 1, 1 Mile
What a race!  With so much talent accumulated for this one – GROUPIE DOLL, FLAT OUT, GOLDENCENTS, VERRAZANO, FORTY TALES, CAPO BASTONE and PRIVATE ZONE, among others – this feels more like a prize fight than it does a horse race.  Are you sure I can’t pick them all?   This race is just that deep.  I do like a horse at a price, though, that being – FORTY TALES – especially at 10-1.  I love the rapport he has with jockey Joel Rosario – they’re 3-for-4 together – and this distance and one-turn layout is right up his alley.  He’ll have ample pace to run at – PRIVATE ZONE, GOLDENCENTS and VERRAZANO can all fly early – and that should set up for FORTY TALES to come running late.  I’m going to take a chance and play a Trifecta that mixes some of the quality speed with the best closers.  Anything you hit in this race should pay handsomely.

The Play: $0.50 Trifecta Box #2 Forty Tales, #4 Groupie Doll, #5 Laugh Track, #8 Goldencents, #10 Verrazano ($30); $5 Win, Place #2 Forty Tales ($10)

Remsen Stakes, Aqueduct, Grade 2, 1 1/8 Miles
I was a bit surprised to see the morning-line odds for HONOR CODE (9-5) and CAIRO PRINCE (2-1) so close.  HONOR CODE seems to be the consensus premier juvenile runner in the country, while CAIRO PRINCE, even after winning the Grade 2 Nashua, is still flying under the radar.  For this race, I prefer CAIRO PRINCE.  HONOR CODE, while impressive on both paper and to the naked eye, still appears to be pace dependent and CAIRO PRINCE will get first run.  Both should handle the added ground, but if Luis Saez can manage a good trip for CAIRO PRINCE, they may leave HONOR CODE with a little too much work to do.

The Play: $28 Exacta #9 Cairo Prince / #4 Honor Code ($28)

Hawthorne Gold Cup, presented by Xpressbet, Grade 2, Hawthorne Race Course, 1 1/4 Miles
LAST GUNFIGHTER simply appears to be a better horse than the rest of his Hawthorne Gold Cup rivals.  While he wasn’t really a factor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he did check in a respectable fifth.  If you can run fifth against Mucho Macho Man, Fort Larned, Game On Dude and Will Take Charge, you’re supposed to win races like this.  Simple as that.  His chief rivals, ALPHA and SUNS OUT GUNS OUT, also shipped west to run at Santa Anita, so any of the three could theoretically regress off that travel and effort.  ALPHA looks particularly shaky to me – besides his wire-to-wire, potentially wet track-aided win in the Woodward, he’s been off the board all year.  MISTER MARDI GRAS may have lost a step – he is 6 – but he brings his A-game each time.

The Play: $10 Exacta, #3 Last Gunfighter / #1 Mister Mardi Gras, #5 Alpha ($20); $2 Trifecta #3 Last Gunfighter / #1 Mister Mardi Gras, #5 Alpha, #8 Suns Out Guns Out ($12)

Paulick Report Handicapper: Ray Paulick, Publisher

Citation Handicap, Grade 2, Hollywood Park, 1 1/16 Miles, Turf
SILENTIO looked for a few strides like he was going to beat Wise Dan and win the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park Nov. 2, and there was no disgrace in getting outfinished in the final sixteenth of a mile by the champ. This is a hard-trying sonofagun who is overdue to break through into the win column this year after a second and three thirds. Unlike the Mile, when he was stuck down on the inside most of the way, jockey Rafael Bejarano will have better options with the Gary Mandella runner. It’s a scramble for the runner-up spot, so we’re wheeling and looking for a longshot.

The Play: $5 exacta wheel, #7 Silentio with all ($30)

Comely, Grade 3, Aqueduct, 1 1/8 Miles
All eyes on the Street Sense filly WEDDING TOAST, who’s won three straight for Godolphin Racing and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and figures to be a heavy favorite in her graded stakes debut. My money goes on MY HAPPY FACE, who makes her third barn switch of the year, going to Peter Miller off a fourth-place finish behind Close Hatches in the G1 Cotillion at Parx. It was not a good trip for the Tiz Wonderful filly, who was checked back behind horses right after the start, then took off for the lead, battling with Sweet Lulu early and never giving up down the lane. The switch to Joel Rosario is massive.
The Play: $50 win on #4 My Happy Face

Cigar Mile Handicap, Grade 1, Aqueduct, 1 Mile
This is one fantastic race, and I just can’t come up with a solid opinion because of so many variables. Did GOLDENCENTS benefit from the speed bias in winning the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita? Which VERRAZANO will show up? Is GROUPIE DOLL really the same filly she was last year? How good is CLEARLY NOW? When I can’t separate the obvious contenders, I go for the Hail Mary play, and that’s LAUGH TRACK, who gets Mike Smith back in the saddle after a narrow second to Secret Circle in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. I think he’s the sleeper here, but you obviously want to get a price, and I’d be happy with 10-1 or higher.
The Play: $10 win on #5 Laugh Track

Hawthorne Gold Cup, presented by Xpressbet, Grade 2, Hawthorne Race Course, 1 1/4 Miles
LAST GUNFIGHTER is back in a more realistic spot after splitting the field in both the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Jockey Club Gold Cup. He obviously handles many different surfaces and just looks to be the class of this field.
The Play: $10 win Last Gunfighter

WeekendStakes Nov 29 b

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  • kyle

    I like Clearly Now. Groupie Doll and the outside speed of Private Zone loom the dangers. Forty Tales is your tri and super filler.

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